For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@futurederyck) you will know that last week I was one of the first wave of people to sit the new Magento 2 Certified Solutions Specialist exam. The exam was and is still in beta (as of the time of writing) so I won’t know how I did for another 4-6 weeks (usually you get your results straight away). While I empathise with students currently awaiting their exam results, I want to give you some insight into what to expect from the exam, as for me it really was a walk into the unknown.
Before I start I want to make it clear that I will not be giving away any answers or even revealing any of the questions (sorry). However, what I will try and do in this article is give you some direction on where you should focus your revision effort and pointers on how to prepare if you are planning on taking the qualification. (Just a reminder: I sat the beta Magento 2 Certified Solutions Specialist exam. The exam will be tweaked and some questions will be undoubtedly removed/replaced - this is the point of a beta after all. So, when reading, please remember that everything I write below could, in theory, be replaced and changed with a different exam model.)
First off: the exam structure was 150 multiple choice questions that were randomly pulled from a pool of questions and you have 3 hours to complete them.
Exam conditions are strict. No phones (or even watches); no notes; no writing implements. You have to place all your personal belongings into the locker provided (at least at the centre I was at, I’m sure it is the same at all the testing centres).
The exam is computer based. Instructions will be given to you by the invigilator prior to the exam. Once the exam starts the clock is ticking with no pause for breaks. It is advisable to take a bathroom break before you start the exam.
Questions are multiple choice with a mixture of single answers and multiple answers. You select the answer you would like and hit for the next question.
You are provided with the ability to write notes in the exam. This is in the form of a wipeable sheet with pens provided. You can not take the notes away with you at the end of the exam.
I found that three hours for the exam was far more than I needed so take your time reading the question before answering. If you change your mind on which answer you wish to choose you can reselect. You will notice there is a review button, this allows you to mark questions to review them later, something that is quite handy and I will come on to below.
The questions I was presented in the exam may not be the same as the questions someone else gets. Having said that, when I compared notes with another person who sat the exam at the same time as me it seems we had pretty much the same questions.
The questions are distributed over four key areas; each area has an approximate weighting towards the overall exam result (in brackets)-
- Ecommerce (23%)
- Magento 2 architecture (25%)
- Elements of a Magento 2 commerce site (30%)
- Applying Magento 2 knowledge to business goals (22%)
The questions are displayed in a random order - the exam doesn’t work through each area at a time.
Tips for during the exam:
- If you are unsure about the answer to any question, make your best choice (or choices) and use the ‘Review’ button which is next to the submit button. This will mark the question for review and you can go back and check/change your answer later. I found that some later questions would trigger me to remember or deduce the correct answer for a previous question - so it's good to be able to easily go back.
- Use the notepaper to keep a running total of which questions you are confident you have right. It is a good gauge as you are going along as to how well you are doing. As I did the beta and there is no published pass score this wasn’t quite as useful but if you are going for the exam when it is out of beta you should be able to find out what the passing score is. Memorise it before you enter the exam and you can use this as your benchmark.
Prior to the exam, I used Magento’s own study guide to prepare. This was a great starting point for my revision. Within the study guide are four sets of questions: one set for each of the key areas. Answer these questions. As the basis of my revision, I answered as many of the questions as I could with no revision. This left a few blank spaces which I then researched the answers to. While this was a good starting point for my preparation, what is clear is that if you don’t know Magento or ecommerce well you are unlikely to be able to ‘wing’ the exam by simply being able to answer the study guide questions. There were plenty of questions in that required more in-depth knowledge.
Remember as well that you need to have good knowledge of Magento Enterprise/ Magento Commerce.
If you do not have access to Magento Enterprise Edition (Now Magento Commerce) then you may struggle to answer some of the questions. It is still possible to pass the exam without having used Magento Enterprise but you will need to have a very good understanding of what the feature differences are between it and Community Edition (Now Magento Open Source).
Tips for study areas:
- As a product that Magento is really getting behind it is worth spending some time understanding the features, differences and what Magento sees as the advantages of using Magento Commerce Cloud edition. You may not have access to an instance but at least read and study the marketing material provided by Magento on their website.
- Make sure you have not only a good working knowledge of how tax works within Magento but also how tax laws differ around the world (with a focus on EU and USA).
- Customer data and privacy may make several appearances. Be sure you understand how customer data can be stored and shared. Study PCI compliance requirements.
- The database setup options available on Magento 2 Enterprise is something that you should have a basic understanding of.
- Magento 2’s staging environment and the many ways you can use this.
Having previously done the Magento Certified Solution Specialist exam (for Magento 1) I found this exam more challenging. I would like to think that anyone who passes the exam can be confident that they know their Magento stuff and will be worthy of the Magento Certified Solution Specialist qualification; of course, that will depend on what the pass mark is set as, which is still to be determined at the time of writing.
I am holding an afternoon session at MageTitans Austin on Thursday 14th September where I will breakdown the study guide and help attendees identify where they may have to brush up their Magento knowledge before sitting the exam. If you are attending MageTitans why not come and join us. Details here.
If you are sitting the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist exam soon I wish you the best of luck.